April 26, 2014
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Nine men's golf teams including Villanova will converge on the Callawassie Island Golf Club for the three-day, 54-hole BIG EAST Championships beginning Sunday.
The club features three nine-hole courses. Most of the competition will play out on the Dogwood Course on Sunday and Monday. For Tuesday's final round, the first 10 threesomes will tee off on Dogwood and the final five will play the Magnolia Course.
Five student-athletes will play for each of the nine teams, with the top four scores counting towards the team cumulative. The BIG EAST Champions in both the team and individual competitions will earn automatic berths to the NCAA Championships.
VILLANOVA rides back-to-back sixth-place showings entering the BIG EAST Championships, having finished in the top half at both the Lafayette and FDU Invitationals. Junior Ted Brennan (77.06 strokes per round) and senior Robby Meador (77.71) hope to lead the Wildcats to their first crown since 1990. Meador tied for fifth at the FDU Invite, his highest finish of 2013-14, with a two-day total of 152.
BIG EAST Notebook
BUTLER comes into the BIG EAST Championships as the seventh-seeded team as of April 24 averaging 302.82 strokes per round. Senior Matt Vitale owns a season-low round of 68 and is averaging a 75.55 per 18 holes to sit 18th in the BIG EAST. Butler does have one win on the season, a victory in its own Bulldog Invitational in March, and will look to capture some of that same magic in South Carolina when it bested a nine-team field.
CREIGHTON was off last week to prepare for the BIG EAST Championships after back-to-back 14th-place showings at the TSU Big Blue Intercollegiate in Nashville, Tenn., and the ASU Red Wolf Intercollegiate in Jonesboro, Ark. Johnny Spellerberg owns a spring-low 68 and is averaging 76 strokes per round. The Bluejays, in making their first appearance at the BIG EAST Championships, are seeded eighth as of April 24.
De PAUL Moritz Ackerhans has been one of the leaders for the Blue Demons this spring, and head coach Betty Kaufmann will lean on him for production at Callawassie Island. Ackerhans enters the championships eighth in the BIG EAST averaging a 74.4 per round and took seventh at the ASU Red Wolf Intercollegiate April 7-8. Seeded fifth, DePaul came in second in February at the Carlton Oaks Invite in California and claimed fourth at the FAU Spring Spring Championships in late March.
GEORGETOWN The Hoyas were busy right up until the BIG EAST Championships, finishing fourth of seven teams at the Oak Hill Intercollegiate in Rochester, N.Y., April 21-22. Junior Greg Podufal took second in that event and looks to continue that strong play at the conference championship. He's the Hoyas' top-seeded player and sits 14th in the BIG EAST. Senior Ed McCrossen is also in the league's top 30. Georgetown won BIG EAST crowns in 1998 and 2010.
MARQUETTE'S last BIG EAST title came in 2008, and this year could deliver another trophy if the seeds go chalk. The Golden Eagles enter the tournament as the top-seeded team. Junior Brandon Cloete and redshirt sophomore CJ Swift and 4-5 in the individual seeds, boasting low rounds this spring of 66 and 67, respectively. Swift was a top-20 finisher at the El Macero Classic, helping his team to eighth in its last outing April 18-20.
ST. JOHN'S The Johnnies have nine BIG EAST titles to their credit but none since 1989. If that drought breaks this year, chances are senior Ryan McCormick is a contributing factor. He's the top-seeded player entering the championship averaging 71.58 strokes per round and boasting a spring-low 64 with two tournament wins. St. John's was last year's runner-up and McCormick took sixth, seven strokes behind the winner. Dylan Crowley and Obe Ayton round out a potent top three.
SETON HALL Freshman Lloyd Jefferson Go has won back-to-back BIG EAST Men's Golfer of the Week awards entering the conference championships and could be a strong contender for the individual crown. JT Harper, another freshman, and sophomore Cory Wilson are the top three seeded Pirates entering Sunday's first round. Fourth-seeded Seton Hall finished second at the Rutherford Invite April 19-20.
XAVIER is seeded third heading into the BIG EAST Championships, their first as a conference member. 25th-year head coach Doug Steiner is a Musketeer institution and has his team eyeing its first NCAA berth since 2006, the last of a stretch of five bids in six years. Junior Korey Ward has been the top player for third-seeded Xavier, averaging at 73.43 per round. The Musketeers boast two top-five finishes this spring, most recently at the NYX Hoosier Invitational in Bloomington, Ind., April 12-13.